Wrestling Power Rankings: Top 25 WWE, AEW, Impact Wrestlers for Week of Aug. 17

Jonathan Snowden@JESnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterAugust 17, 2020

Wrestling Power Rankings: Top 25 WWE, AEW, Impact Wrestlers for Week of Aug. 17

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    Photo courtesy of WWE.com

    Traditional sports are judged by wins and losses. That means records carry with them the weight of truth, the ultimate arbiter of success.

    Professional wrestling is a little different. This is a sport where the athletes are judged not just by who wins and loses, but by weekly television ratings, fan response and even critical analysis of their performance. 

    It is, in some ways, apples and oranges.

    That makes putting together a list like this particularly challenging. A wrestler could win 1000 matches in a row and never make this top 25 if no one could be bothered to care. Likewise, someone on the losing end of a contest can wow the world with their bravado and skill. 

    Winning and losing is just the beginning, not the end game. Momentum, fan interest and outside the ring elements like interviews and vignettes are all factored into the overall picture that informs this list.

    That means these Power Rankings will shift dramatically on a week by week basis. What was hot last week may be passe just seven days later in this "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" world. Consistent excellence will be rewarded, but no one has a golden ticket that demands their constant presence here.

    Let's take a look at the top 25 wrestlers from WWE, AEW and Impact for the past week (as well as some who didn't make the list). Then we can all hash it out in the comments!

Tepid: Nos. 25-21

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    Bianca Belair
    Bianca BelairPhoto courtesy of WWE.com

    25. Motor City Machine Guns

    Promotion: Impact 

    Last Week: Not Rated

    Analysis: The long time independent wrestling trendsetters are back in the big leagues and already tag team champions. Impact featured a great video package ahead of their upcoming bout with The North, a match that promises to be up there with the best tag team wrestling anywhere in the world.

    24. Young Bucks

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 23 

    Analysis: The self proclaimed best tag team in the world is a versatile act capable of easily filling 15 minutes chunks of television time with solid, action-oriented wrestling. They are currently feuding with FTR, though it's not clear whether Dax and Cash are entirely focused on their California-based counterparts. After all, Kenny Omega and Adam Page have the ultimate prize—tag team gold.

    23. Keith Lee

    Promotion: WWE NXT

    Last Week: 19 

    Analysis: The NXT champion was burned by a fireball and will go into his title match with Karrion Kross at a competitive disadvantage. More importantly, perhaps, are the free-falling NXT ratings. While it's not entirely fair to blame Lee, the truth is, he's the man on top while interest appears to be at an all-time low.

    22. Good Brothers

    Promotion: Impact 

    Last Week: 10

    Analysis: The former Bullet Club founders came in with guns blazing, but the promotion couldn't match their energy with another equally popular act. The potential is here to do interesting things—hopefully they can figure out an opposing force that can believably stand tall against these two standouts.

    21. Bianca Belair

    Promotion: WWE RAW

    Last Week: Not Rated

    Analysis: The former queen bee of NXT has yet to live up to her immense potential on RAW. But this week's mauling of Zelina Vega at least brings wrestling's EST into the conversation. 

    Although Belair is capable of a run at the top, it's cool to see WWE investing television time to women's stories in the middle of the card. That's good progress.

Simmering: Nos. 20-16

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    AJ Styles
    AJ StylesPhoto courtesy of WWE.com

    20. Eric Young

    Promotion: Impact

    Last Week: 25

    Analysis: Young looked great against Willie Mack on Impact, managing to make a very personal match work despite the absence of an audience. He also has the attention of champion Eddie Edwards, a bout with the potential to draw some eyeballs and attention in the direction of AXS Television.

    19. Karrion Kross

    Promotion: NXT

    Last Week: 22 

    Analysis: There's just something special about this guy. He exudes menace in a way very few others manage to do in contemporary wrestling. This is what a future star looks and feels like.

    18. AJ Styles

    Promotion: WWE SmackDown

    Last Week: Not Rated 

    Analysis: Intercontinental champion Styles was missing last week but was back in an extended skit making fun of analytics (and, perhaps, poking some fun at his own reputation as an anti-intellectual). The segment wasn't nearly as funny as the social media memes that followed—but Jeff Hardy injected some ferocity into the mix and that eventual title bout promises to be a lot of fun.

    17. The Fiend

    Promotion: WWE SmackDown

    Last Week: Not Rated 

    Analysis: You made your voices heard loud and clear in the comments last week. Just because I didn't especially appreciate the feud between Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman doesn't mean the WWE Universe wasn't interested. You were —and that matters a great deal. Luckily the segment was great this week, allowing me to insert The Fiend into this list without any trouble with my conscience. 

    16. Seth Rollins

    Promotion: WWE RAW

    Last Week: Not Rated 

    Analysis: I actively hated the idea of a feud between Rollins and Dominic Mysterio and it felt like wrestling fans on social media did too. That's why he didn't make the cut last week. But this week the two delivered a fire segment—good enough that they've even made me curious about what a match between the men would look like. That's solid work!

Scorching: Nos. 15-11

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    Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss
    Braun Strowman and Alexa BlissPhoto courtesy of WWE.com

    15. Sonya Deville

    Promotion: WWE SmackDown

    Last Week: 14

    Analysis: Deville continues to make a case for herself as the most improved competitor in all of women's wrestling. She's taken the once light-hearted storyline between Mandy Rose and Otis in unexpected directions, delivering a fire and intensity that doesn't come easy for most wrestlers.

    Hopefully she's able to bounce back quickly from a recent attack in her home. Toxic fandom is an increasingly uncomfortable part of the wrestling fan's online experience—we should all do our part to police it as best we can.

    14. Kenny Omega/Hangman Page

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 11

    Analysis: Page and Omega remain fighting champions, besting Jurassic Express in a competitive match that missed too many beats to truly be considered excellent. Their multi-team storyline with the Young Bucks and FTR remains the talk of AEW twitter.

    While the feud between the various teams doesn't always make sense, at least we can all be confident that the matches will deliver big time once they step in the ring. 

    13. Alexa Bliss

    Promotion: WWE SmackDown

    Last Week: Not Rated

    Analysis: Workrate fans are no doubt flipping out at Alexa's placement above Omega/Page. But, the truth is, she absolutely killed it in her segment with Bray Wyatt and the Fiend. She's the emotional heartbeat of that story and it's easy to believe both men would be inspired to both great and terrible deeds to earn her affections.

    12. Braun Strowman

    Promotion: WWE SmackDown

    Last Week: Not Rated

    Analysis: The new look Braun Strowman was called on to do some "acting" this week on SmackDown—and the big man delivered in a major way. I ranked him a notch ahead of Bliss because, eventually, he'll be the one centered in the storyline when he steps into the ring to do battle with the Fiend.

    That the fight is about the Universal Championship has been all but forgotten as things have taken an uncomfortably personal turn.

    11. Chris Jericho

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 7

    Analysis: The "demo god" fell short against Orange Cassidy this week, dropping both the match and a notch in the ratings in the show's main event. Jericho remains a modern marvel, capable of taking any opponent and making them instantly interesting.

Scalding: Nos. 10-6

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    Sasha Banks
    Sasha BanksPhoto courtesy of WWE.com

    10. Big E

    Promotion: WWE SmackDown

    Last Week: 9

    Analysis: After stepping willingly into the shadows to let his teammate Kofi Kingston shine, it's now Big E's turn to make a run at the top. For years, fans have speculated about what a Big E reign might look like—he's one of the most charismatic wrestlers in the sport and a physical specimen unlike anyone else in the promotion. 

    Personally, I get fired up every time he comes on the television. The guy has a presence and I think has the potential to be something special.

    9. Asuka

    Promotion: WWE RAW

    Last Week: Not Rated

    Analysis: It was an incredible week for Asuka. Not only did she earn a RAW title shot at SummerSlam by beating Bayley in a great match, she won the opportunity to compete for SmackDown gold by being the last woman standing during a Battle Royal on Friday night. 

    Two title shots in one night? If anyone can pull it off, it's the former champion.

    8.  Jon Moxley

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 13

    Analysis: Until this week, Moxley had felt like little more than an extra in the MJF show. He took center stage this week, demolishing his challenger and making it clear he doesn't care one bit about pollsters or popularity contests. He's looking for a fight and MJF, perhaps foolishly, has volunteered for duty.

    7. Sasha Banks

    Promotion: WWE SmackDown

    Last Week: 2

    Analysis: Bayley assumed the lead role for the team this week, but Sasha has the kind of charisma and presence that allows her to shine even from the sidelines.

    Right now many fans are complaining about the week-to-week booking because, well, that's just what hardcore fans do in 2020. Ultimately, we'll all remember this as one of the great heel runs in the history of modern women's wrestling. 

    6.  MJF

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 8

    Analysis: MJF deployed all his body guards last week to cover the various entrances at Daily's Place. Big mistake. A true super villain knows to keep his goons close. Maxwell made a mistake and paid an appropriate price—a beating at the hands of Moxley.

    MJF remains the most promising heel in professional wrestling. He's got the part that happens before the bell rings down pat. We'll see shortly what kind of work he can get done inside the ring once the bell rings for a pay-per-view main event. 

Dropped from the Rankings

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    The Dark Order
    The Dark OrderPhoto courtesy of AEW

    Dropped from the Rankings:

    Miz/Morrision (Last Week: 24): Strong showing by John Morrison this week against Big E, but this team isn't really a central part of the Mandy/Sonya Deville angle, merely a strong supporting act.

    Hurt Business (Last Week: 21): Without the extra juice from RAW Underground, it was hard to justify including them on the list this week. They are still holding it down as a solid midcard faction.

    The Dark Order (Last Week: 20): I am an official member of this cult, so let my bias be known. But, unfortunately, they struggled this week and everyone who isn't Brodie Lee seems stuck forever as an undercard comedy act. That means they might occasionally hit the low end of this list—but doesn't allow for much advancement.

    Matt Cardona (Last Week: 18): Two weeks removed from his big debut, Cardona is MIA on AEW Dynamite. Welcome to the club. Unless you are a main eventer or an EVP, consistent television time is hard to come by on TNT.

    Dakota Kai (Last Week: 17): I'm still very enthusiastic about Kai's upcoming title shot. Unfortunately, WWE doesn't appear to have the same energy.

    Joey Janela (Last Week: 16): Janela is one of the very best in the world on the independent scene. On AEW, however, he often seems like little more than an afterthought. After high profile success against Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega, he's mostly been one of many acts left behind when the politicking really gets fierce behind the scenes in Jacksonville.

    Shane McMahon (Last Week: 12): RAW Underground remained a fun addition to the Monday night WWE flagship. But it felt less like Shane's segment this week. 

Notable Omissions

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    Photo courtesy of WWE.com

    Cody (AEW): The TNT champion is at his best when he has a juicy storyline to sink his teeth into. His TNT Title reign, however, has been built around a series of matches in the ring with no narrative. That isn't where Cody shines.

    Roman Reigns (WWE): The poster boy who was supposed to replace Cena has been sitting out the COVID-19 era.

    Shayna Baszler (WWE): I had Shayna pencilled in after her star turn during RAW Underground. Unfortunately, she was also on SmackDown looking like just another wrestler. She remains one of the most underutilized wrestlers on any roster. 

    Adam Cole (NXT): I don't like Cole's feud with pseudo celebrity Pat McAfee. Judging by the rating, WWE fans agree. 

    Retribution (WWE): Based loosely on the ANTIFA movement, this angle was a big swing by WWE—and an equally big miss. Can we all just pretend it never happened?

    Otis (WWE): I love the big man. But, right now, he's little more than a bystander watching the incredible battle of wills between his beloved Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. 

5. Drew McIntyre

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    Photo courtesy of WWE.com

    Promotion: WWE RAW

    Last Week: 4

    Analysis: There wasn't much for the champion to do this week other than run to the ring and look disgustedly in the direction of Randy Orton. Luckily, that didn't require much in the way of acting chops—it was easy for anyone watching to feel disdain for the "Legend Killer" after a vile verbal attack on old man Ric Flair that turned suddenly physical. 

    The eventual match between the two men has all the parts to build something truly memorable. I can't wait to see McIntyre continue to rise to the occasion.

4. FTR

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    Photo courtesy of AEW

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 5

    Analysis: After weeks of pretending to want to be friends with the Elite while secretly sewing dissension among them, FTR finally showed their true colors. In the middle of a Tag Team Appreciation ceremony that had turned into an old man gripe session, Dax and Cash decided to attack the Rock and Roll Express, revealing that the injury that supposedly caused them to abandon their 12-man tag match the previous week on Dynamite was phony.

    Sound convoluted? Well, don't mention that on Twitter if you don't want 1000 replies calling your Grandmama names! 

    Whether it's good storytelling or not, it certainly has the wrestling world talking. And that, to a certain point, is what it's all about.

3. Bayley

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    Photo courtesy of WWE.com

    Promotion: WWE RAW

    Last Week: 6

    Analysis: When the history of the WWE women's wrestling "evolution" is written, Bayley "Dos Straps" should rightfully be one of the central characters. 

    In NXT, she was an iconic babyface, purer than the fallen snow, beloved by children, adults and very likely pets as well. There was no babyface who dripped goodness from her pores the way Bayley did. 

    It was marvelous to behold, a white knight in a business that has turned decidedly gray.

    For a time, she struggled as a villain. No more. The old Bayley is hardly recognizable anymore, her vile, backstabbing nature on display for the world to see. 

    And, you know what?

    It's just as amazing to watch as babyface Bayley ever was.

2. Orange Cassidy

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    Photo courtesy of AEW

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 3

    Analysis: Orange Cassidy pinned Chris Jericho's shoulders to the mat. 

    Yes, that Chris Jericho. The first AEW champion. The first WWE double champion. The lead singer of Fozzy. The master of 1004 holds. The conqueror of "Stinko" Malenko. 

    The icon.

    It's not hard to imagine the pop this would have gotten in an arena full of AEW fans. It's that phantom pop that earned Cassidy this position. 

    How long he can stay a top act is anyone's guess. But, for the moment, let's all just marvel that we live in a time when Cassidy can become one of wrestling's top acts while barely even bothering to try.

1. Randy Orton

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    Photo courtesy of WWE.com

    Promotion: WWE RAW

    Last Week: 1

    Analysis: Orton's scathing promo running down his former friend and mentor Ric Flair joins the rest of his 2020 work as clear proof of the man's Hall of Fame talent. When he's on, no one in the business is capable of matching Orton's oratorical skills—and right now he's as "on" as anyone has been in years. 

    This is CM Punk at his Pipe Bomb best—only delivered week after week with an almost scary consistency. 

    Right now there is no one close to Orton's level. It's only when the bell rings that the gap closes considerably. But not enough to make him anything but the best professional wrestler in the world.